This past weekend marked the third time I’ve run a race during the Detroit Marathon weekend. My first race was the 5K back in 2012. Last year I upgraded to the Half Marathon where I went on to hurt myself and earn a ticket to the PT for the fall running season.
This year I was determined to have a different outcome. I was going to pace my wife for this race and since it had been a while (April of this year) since she ran a half we were going to take it easy and enjoy the race. I’m happy to say we accomplished that mission!
Instead of doing a normal race report I thought I’d change it up a bit and tell you 5 things I learned from running this race.
- Arrive early and Park for Free- The race begins at 7AM and traffic is a bear. M-10 closes at I-75 and most of the city streets close the race route shut down before 5AM. We set our alarm for 4:00 and were out the door by 4:30. Instead of trying to park close the race course we parked on Washington Blvd close to Grand Circus Park. It’s probably ¾ of a mile to walk to the start line but since they don’t check meters on Sundays we were able to park on the street for free.
- Do not park inside of the race course – My first year I arrived early and thought I was being smart by parking close to the starting line. I was able to get a spot before the roads closed however, when I finished the race, I couldn’t leave until the roads reopened again. If you look at a map of the race course, it loops around itself forming a circle. If you park inside of that circle you aren’t getting out for a while. I ended up walking around the after party and sitting in my car for a couple of hours after my first race had finished.
- Bring some warm yet disposable clothing- All three years that I have run this race have been really cold at the start. Yesterday’s starting line temp was 33 degrees and since we started downtown close to the river it felt even colder than that. Before the race started I had gone to the Salvation Army and purchased a sweatshirt from their dollar pile. As you can see from the picture below, it wasn’t pretty but it did the job. I also had the standard $1 running gloves that I tucked into my shorts pocket once I started to warm up. I didn’t throw them away because I had learned from last year that going through the tunnel is hot and stinky but once you exit you get hit with a cold blast of air. I was glad I had the gloves because my fingers were cold again by mile 9.
- Be prepared for some hills – When most people think of a race course through the city of Detroit, they think it will be a flat and fast course. This course is actually a bit deceiving as it has quite a bit of elevation change (817 ft). The run over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada is beautiful, but it’s also challenging. The course leading up to the bridge has an incline to it with an uneven road surface. The entrance road is curved and has a pretty good bank to it making running uncomfortable to say the least. Add in the fact the you’re only at mile two, and probably still cold from the early morning fall start time, and your legs might be aching a bit. Once you get on the bridge, the road is narrow and the climb is much more challenging than you might think. It’s nothing to be scared of but don’t take it lightly either. Train for the elevation and you’ll be fine.
- Be prepared to see some amazing communities that you never knew existed – During this race you’ll get to see the Detroit River from the Canadian side and run along Riverside Drive. There is a great community here and the race support is awesome. The college students come out in force to cheer and other residents barrage you with greetings of “Welcome to Canada”. Once you come back into the city you get to run through a very nice part of Mexican village and smell the food being prepared for lunch at the local Mexican restaurants. This was one of two times during the race that my mouth was watering and I was ready to give up and go eat. The other was when we ran past American & Lafayette Coney Island Restaurants. One of the last Neighborhoods you get to see before the finish line is Cork town. I never realized how nice this area is with beautiful restored homes lining the streets. You can tell the locals really take pride in home ownership.
The Detroit International Half Marathon is one of my favorite races and hopefully, will be a staple of my running career for a long time to come. The course is challenging but wonderful and takes you through places you might never visit any other time. The medal is one of the best you can get, and running through two countries, and the world’s only underwater mile, make this a race to put on your calendar for sure!
Have you ever run this race and if so what did you think?
Would you recommend it to others?
Let me know in the comment section below.